The Nooks & Crannies of my Mind

karunaBy Karuna Beaver

Through my yoga practices, I’ve uncovered layers of physical, mental and emotional trappings that had held me back for years.  I’ve been able to feel and begin to heal.  This is what Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini Abbruzzi wrote about in this month’s Teachings Article, Making Spiritual Progress in Life:

Svaroopa® yoga’s specialty is to begin with healing what ails you, then to reveal your inner potential to you.”

In the article’s words, I wish I could say that I’ve completely stopped “dragging myself down.”  Still, I am making progress! Patanjali’s yamas (lifestyle practices) do now “blossom spontaneously” for me.  I don’t have to practice as many mental reminders to refrain from negativity.  I am organically less greedy, grabby and needy in my interactions with others, and more importantly, in my own inner actions and reactions.

Yamas Niyamas

I also find myself more and more drawn to the niyamas, which focus on resolve, not restraint.  The niyamas include shaucha, purity; santosha, contentment; tapas, tenacity; svadhyaaya, chanting/studying yoga’s ancient texts; and ishvara-pranidhana, surrender to God.

In April, my practice of shaucha has included cleaning closets, cupboards and car, inside and out.  All the while, I repeated mantra out loud, speaking or chanting it.  This practice gives “whistle while you work” a whole new dimension.  To borrow a phrase from Meditation Teacher Training, mantra is scrubby bubbles for my mind.  Not only did I scour closets and car, I cleaned out my mind’s nooks and crannies.  The contemplation article underscores this benefit, calling mantra repetition “the most powerful way to cultivate mental purity.”


I repeat mantra silently at various points daily.  Yet, my mind needs more work.  With many layers to clear, out loud mantra repetition (japa) is just the ticket.  I was reminded of this recently.  I’d slipped into churning about things either beyond my control or not worth worrying about.  Two reliable sources advised japa periods of an hour or more.  It worked, and sent me into another niyama — tapas.

I’m “buckling down to do the hard stuff,” as the article says about tapas.  For me it means doing more japa.  Having cleaned out my actual closets, I’m trying to clean out more mental and emotional closets.  By doing so, I’m trusting in the blossoming forth of more niyamas.  I’m looking forward to deep contentment, and filling more of my life with study, song and surrender.  In any season, deep cleaning lets in more light.  Do more japa!

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